Thursday, February 4, 2010

My Drawer Novel

Most writers have one. Come on. Admit it, fellow scribblers. You have one too. Your first baby, the one you're a little embarrassed to let see the light of day. Or maybe you did let it see the light of day. Sent it out there into the publishing jungle, and it came scurrying back, licking its wounds.

But that doesn't mean you don't still love it. Flaws and all.

My drawer novel is CATSPAW. It's paranormal suspense, and has a little kid, a troubled teen (honestly, is there any other kind?), a young widow, and an old lady who may or may not be a witch. Oh yeah, and a cat. There is, naturally, a Very Bad Man. Avoiding the VBM involves, among other things, transmigration of souls. There's a love interest (veterinarian), a sub-plot complication (his evil ex-wife), and even some comic relief (vet's interfering-but-capable assistant). All it really needs is a vampire, and I think I'd have all the bases covered.

CATSPAW is too long, too loose, and I suspect it has too many points of view. Also, for some reason I felt compelled to include pretentious literary quotes at the beginning of each chapter. Didn't want all that graduate work to go to waste, I guess. If I ever dust this sucker off and try to repair it, those will definitely have to go.

When I finished writing it, I decided I needed to give it a little distance before I started sending it out. You know, so I could look at it with fresh eyes. In the meantime, to keep myself occupied, I started writing a fluffy little paranormal mystery called IN A FIX. Pure popcorn. Junk food. Mind candy. Shorter, lighter, single POV. Had a blast playing with it, and before I knew it I was done. Decided IT was the one I really wanted to sell. Figured in these truly suck-perior economic times, readers might appreciate a romp on the goofy side. (Of course, it's also action-packed and sexy. If I do *cough* say so myself.) Queried it around, got lots of positive feedback, and eventually landed my wonderful agent.

The odd thing is, when I told my old crit partners I got an agent, they all assumed it was for CATSPAW. They remembered it. Fondly. Huh. Guess even an ugly baby has its charms.

CATSPAW taught me more about writing than I could begin to list here. Mainly, leave out the boring stuff. Backstory might be essential for the the writing process, but your reader doesn't need to know every flippin' detail of your character's past to enjoy the current story, any more than you need to know everything that ever happened in your date's life from birth onward to enjoy spending an evening with him. Stay in the Now as much as possible. Dribble out the info on an as-needed basis. Above all, don't make your reader feel like the hapless soul trapped on the plane next to the gabby stranger. :)

How about you? Do you have a drawer novel? If so, what did it teach you?



Great post!

I have several drawer novels, and I'm grateful to each of them for teaching me some pretty valuable lessons. Honestly, the first book I sold (to Silhouette Bombshell, which bombed before the book was released) could probably be considered a drawer novel. Even though a pub house was willing to pay me for it, I'm a little embarrassed now to admit I wrote it, since it's so vastly different from my real voice.

Looking forward to reading IN A FIX someday!


Linda G. said...

Hi, Tawna!

Too bad Silhouette Bombshell bombed, but really, what were they expecting with a name like that? ;) And if you later decided you weren't entirely happy with the book they were set to publish, perhaps it was a lucky break for you.

But, sheesh, if you're going to have a drawer novel, that's the way to do it. Since you have several, I'll bet that one is Queen of the Drawer, having come so close to escaping it.

Looking forward to reading your stuff, too! :)

Kari Lynn Dell said...

Just yesterday I opened the old files on my thumb drive and looked at my second and third books. O--M--G. There is at least one adverb in every single sentence. And some seriously cheesy moments. *facepalm*

Linda G. said...

Hi Kari!

*laughs* Hey, I think adverbs have gotten a bad rap. They have their place. Maybe not in every single sentence, but I personally feel a paragraph wouldn't be complete without at least a token -ly.

Anonymous said...

Your blog posts are wonderful. That is all. :)

Linda G. said...

Aw, thanks, Em. :) I'm planning a really whiny one for later (the next blizzard-in-the-making has just rolled in--you can imagine how thrilled I am), so stay tuned!